Hospitals in America’s Washington DC have begun taking steps to combat swine flu, following an outbreak of the disease in Mexico.

Washington DC Department of Health’s website is being updated with details of the viral flu and the Children’s National Medical Center is monitoring flu reports and posting fact sheets about the illness on its site.

Parents have also been asked to closely monitor children’s cleanliness.

The area’s Inova Fairfax Hospital is monitoring the illness and working with the health department and other authorities to keep watch over the situation.

The hospitals are also evaluating clinical guidelines and responses and preparing to use them as needed.

In case of an outbreak of the flu virus, hospitals will distribute masks in places such as the Metro and residents will be urged to avoid movie theatres and promoters asked to cancel events.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease that can spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing or direct contact. Medical health experts recommend the best way to avoid it is to clean hands with soap and hot water or with waterless hand gel.

About 20 cases of the flu – a mix of avian, swine and human forms of influenza – have been registered across the US at time of writing. There were, however, no such cases reported in the DC region.

By staff writer.